Call our experts today
020 7183 7766


France Travel Guide

There is no other travel destination on earth that has the romantic pull of France. Idealised by millions all over the world, dreams of French holidays involve champagne on the Eiffel Tower, cruises on the Seine, bicycling through wine country and exploring the resorts of the Cote d'Azur.

A holiday in France offers a wide variety of attractions for all travellers, whether interested in culture and history or just having a good time. While Paris is famous for its cultural refinement, there are more than 40,000 castles and chateaux dotting the countryside, dozens of ski resorts in the French Alps, holiday towns along the coast, and countless cities and villages hidden around every hill providing never-ending opportunities to explore.

French culture is known for its effortless sophistication, including the gastronomic delights of French cuisine, museums dedicated to centuries of French art, and the sought-after haute couture creations of French fashion designers. Whether looking for a city break in Paris or exploring the lesser-known delights of Alsace-Lorraine, a holiday in France is the dream holiday for many.

Best time to visit France

France has four distinct seasons and each offers different delights for travellers. Arguably the best time to visit is in late spring (May) and early autumn (September), to avoid the crowds of summer and the harshly cold winters. Having said that, summer (June to August) remains the most popular season to visit France.

What to see in France

-See the Mona Lisa and other famous works of art at the Louvre gallery in Paris.

-Spot celebrities at Cannes.

-Stroll through the gardens of the magnificent Palace of Versailles.

-Browse the luxury fashion boutiques on Paris' Champs-Elysees.

What to do in France

-Go skiing at resorts such as Tignes and Serre-Chevalier in the French Alps.

-Take a guided tour of the Moet et Chandon cellars in Epernay.

-Have dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

-Treat the kids to a day at Disneyland Paris.

-Party in the nightclubs of St Tropez.

Getting to France

Getting to France is easy from most Western countries. There are many direct flights to France from the US, nearly all of which land in one of the Paris airports. There are dozens of cheap flights to France from the UK as well, and direct trains from London to Paris.


Hotel Pastis by Peter Mayle, Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, and Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.


Non, Je ne regrette rien (Edith Piaf) and Si tu n'etais pas la (Frehel).


La Vie en Rose (2007), Amelie (2001), and Midnight in Paris (2011).


French wine and champagne.


Croissants, macaroons, frog's legs.

What to buy

French wine and Parisian fashion.

What to pack

A French phrasebook or language app. Many French outside of Paris don't speak English, and a little French will make life that much easier, even in the capital.

What's on in France

Hollywood stars launch their newest movies at the Cannes Film Festival every May. The 2,000-mile (3,500km) Tour de France bicycle race comes to an exciting conclusion in Paris each summer. The larger-than-life puppets of the Festival of Giants parade through the village of Douai each July.

Did you know?

On average, two new cookbooks are published every day in France.

A final word

High fashion, delicious food and an overwhelming sense of romance make France one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.


French is the official language.


The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though visitors will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.


Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.


Most restaurants and hotels automatically add a 15 percent service charge so a tip is not necessary, although another two to three percent is customary if the service has been good. If service is not included then 15 percent is customary. Taxi drivers expect 10 to 15 percent of the fare, and hairdressers about 10 percent. Hotel staff generally receive about €1.50 a day and tips of about €1 are given to washroom and cloakroom attendants and museum tour guides. Tour bus drivers and guides are also tipped.


While violent crime against tourists is rare and holidays in France are generally trouble-free, visitors should be mindful that security has been heightened following a series of terrorist attacks in recent years, particularly in the transport sector. Unattended luggage left in public places will be removed or destroyed by security staff. While generally safe, visitors to France are advised to take precautions against petty theft and to ensure their personal safety. Thieves and pickpockets operate on the metro and around airports. Theft from cars is prevalent, particularly in the south, around Marseilles, and in Corsica. Tourists are advised to conceal bags and purses even when driving, and to never leave valuables unattended in the car. Bag snatching is also common, particularly on public transport and in shopping centres, and visitors should also be vigilant of luggage while loading bags into and out of hire cars at airports.


The international access code for France is +33. It is often cheaper to get a local sim card than to pay international roaming costs. Free wifi is available in most hotels, cafes, restaurants and similar establishments.


No particular vaccinations or medications are required for travel to France. The prevalence of certain tick-borne infections, such as lyme disease, tularemia, tick-borne encephalitis, and rickettsial diseases, mean that travellers should take precautions against ticks if they are travelling in rural or forested areas in warm weather. French hospitals and health facilities are first class. Visitors from other EU countries are entitled to discounted medical treatment and medicines on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). After Brexit, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) replaced the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for UK citizens. The GHIC allows UK citizens access to state healthcare during visits to the EU. The GHIC is not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, nor is it an alternative to travel insurance. Otherwise, doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, so medical insurance is advised.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day1 Jan1 Jan
Easter Monday13 Apr5 Apr
Labour Day1 May1 May
WWII Victory Day8 May8 May
Ascension Day21 May13 May
Whit Monday1 Jun24 May
Bastille Day14 Jul14 Jul
Assumption of the Virgin Mary15 Aug15 Aug
All Saints' Day1 Nov1 Nov
Armistice Day11 Nov11 Nov
Christmas Day25 Dec25 Dec


Business etiquette is important in France. A smart, fashionable sense of dress is common as the nation prides itself on . Punctuality is not always observed though and the 'fashionably late' tactic may be applied. A handshake is the common form of greeting for men and women upon first introductions. Titles are important and the person is to be referred to as 'monsieur' (Mr.), 'madame' (Mrs.), or 'mademoiselle' (Ms.). Meetings usually occur over lunches, and the French are known to enjoy food. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Passport & Visa

The borderless region known as the Schengen Area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option, and which allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all the aforementioned countries.

Additionally, travellers must hold sufficient funds to cover their stay in France, and proof of repatriation (a return or onward ticket, and the necessary travel documentation for their next destination). Note that Schengen visas, if required, are also valid for French Guiana and French West Indies and Reunion, provided that the Schengen visa is endorsed "Also valid for French territories being in observation of the respective French territories". We recommend that passports always be valid for six months after intended period of travel.


French culture is of paramount importance to the French people. In an increasingly Americanised world they feel duty-bound to protect it, and it is appreciated if visitors can speak a few words of French. Locals do not respond well to being shouted at in English. While the food is second to none, foreigners may find the service in many restaurants sloppy. Waiters can appear rude (particularly in Paris) and take their time. This is just the way they are. Traditional games such as pétanque (similar to lawn bowling but played on gravel) are popular in village squares, but the national sports are football, rugby and cycling. Smoking in public places is not allowed and will incur heavy fines.

Duty Free

Travellers from non-EU countries over 17 years of age entering France can bring in the following items duty-free: 200 cigarettes, or 100 cigarillos, or 50 cigars, or 250g tobacco. Four litres of wine and 16 litres of beer and one litre of spirits over 22 percent or two litres of alcoholic beverages less than 22 percent. Other goods up to the value of €430 for air and sea travellers, and €300 for other travellers (reduced to €175 for children under 15 years of age).


Maison de la France (Tourist Information Agency), Paris:

112 (General)

Entry Requirements

US citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least three months after their intended stay in France. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

British passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar, only need to be valid for period of intended stay in France. All other endorsements require at least three months validity beyond the period of intended stay in France. A visa is not required for passports endorsed 'British Citizen', 'British Subject' (containing a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode issued by the United Kingdom), and 'British Overseas Territories Citizen' issued by Gibraltar. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days in a 180 day period for holders of British passports with any other endorsement. Holders of identity cards issued by Gibraltar authories, and endorsed 'Validated for EU travel purposes under the authority of the United Kingdom', do not require a visa to visit France.

Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months after their intended stay in France. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in a 180 day period.

South African citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months after their intended stay, and a valid Schengen visa, to enter France. Note that entry and transit will be refused to holders of Temporary passports.

Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid on arrival. No visa is required.

New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid for three months after their intended stay in France. No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days in a 180 day period.

Embassy Consulates

US Embassy, Paris: +33 (0)1 4312 2222.

British Embassy, Paris: +33 (0)1 4451 3100.

Canadian Embassy, Paris: +33 (0)1 4443 2900.

South African Embassy, Paris: +33 (0)1 5359 2323.

Irish Embassy, Paris: +33 (0)1 4417 6700.

New Zealand Embassy, Paris: +33 (0)1 4501 4343.

Embassy Consulates

French Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 944 6195.

French Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7073 1000.

French Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 789 1795.

French Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 425 1600.

French Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 277 5000.

French Embassy, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 384 2555.


Naturally, most visitors start their holiday in the French capital, Paris, where the Eiffel Tower offers spectacular views over the city. Shopping at Galeries Lafayette or on the Champs Elysees is a unique experience, as is taking in the exhibitions at the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay, or relishing the delights of the Moulin Rouge. Day trips take guests to the Palace of Versailles and Disneyland.

South of Paris lies the Loire Valley, known as the 'Garden of France' for its abundance of vineyards and fruit orchards. The imposing chȃteaux spread across the valley are cultural monuments to the ideals of the Renaissance period. Less well known but equally stunning is Provence. Tourists can stroll through the markets of Aix-en-Provence, visit the Pope's Palace in Avignon, buy fresh seafood in Marseille, and visit the rural wetlands of the Camargue, home to the fabled white horses.

There are ancient gems in every direction. The coast of Normandy hosts the magical island of Mont-Saint-Michel, topped by a medieval monastery. To the south lies the historic fortified city of Carcassonne.

The Alps are a playground for skiing in the winter, and hiking or cycling in the summer. The Pyrenees offer a view of the wilder side of France. Travellers can take a cable car ride to the summit of Pic du Midi, or experience the famous pilgrimage to Lourdes.

The ultimate jet-set lifestyle awaits on the Cote d'Azur, where visitors are treated to 71 miles (115km) of Mediterranean coastline and beaches, more than 60 golf courses, 47 ski resorts, thousands of restaurants and an abundance of sunny weather. Travellers who visit in May can catch a glimpse of Hollywood's finest at the Cannes Film Festival.


France is big, spanning a range of different climatic regions. The south of France has a warm Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. Strong winds, known as 'le Mistral', can occur in the Cote d'Azur, Provence and in the Rhone Valley, particularly over the winter and spring. Rainfall is distributed throughout the year and some snow is expected in winter. Northern France, including Paris, has a temperate climate similar to southern England, with warm summers, cold winters and rainfall throughout the year. The western coast, from the Loire Valley to the Pyrenees, is milder, and summer days are generally very hot. The mountainous areas are cooler and get heavy snowfall in winter.

During summer most French residents take their five-week vacation to the coast and mountains, and empty cities tend to shut down accordingly. The peak tourist season in France is in the summer months of July and August, when the French themselves tend to take their vacations, but as this period is expensive and crowded the best time to visit France is actually in the spring (March and April) and autumn (September and October) when the weather is mild. Of course, the ski resorts boom in the winter and, for those who don't mind the cold, a winter holiday in cities such as Paris has a charm of its own.

Showing: 8828 Cruises
13 france